U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - India

As in previous years, terrorists staged hundreds of attacks on people and property in India. The most prominent terrorist groups are violent extremist separatists operating in Jammu and Kashmir, Maoists in the "Naxalite belt" in eastern India, and ethno-linguistic nationalists in India's northeastern states. The federal and state governments have tried various strategies to address some of these grievances within the context of Indian democracy, but the government is firm: groups must cease violence before negotiations can begin, and the government will not entertain territorial concessions.

Some terrorist groups operating in India sought to raise their profile. On May 22, there were nearly simultaneous bombings of two movie theaters in New Delhi by a Sikh terrorist organization, Babbar Khalsa International which many thought was defunct. The attacks left one person dead and more than 60 injured. On October 29, a series of explosions in crowded marketplaces and on a public bus in New Delhi killed approximately 60 and injured more than 150 on the eve of Diwali, India's most important Hindu holiday. The Indian Government blamed the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) for the attack.

Kashmiri terrorist groups made numerous attacks on elected Indian and Kashmiri politicians, targeted civilians in public areas, and attacked security forces. Hundreds of non-combatants were killed, most of whom were Kashmiri Muslims. Indian experts asserted that the April attack on the bus depot for Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus was designed to inhibit growing Kashmiri enthusiasm for normalization of ties between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The designated FTOs LT and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) claimed responsibility for many of these attacks. Some of these groups are believed to maintain ties to al-Qaida.

Nevertheless, civilian fatalities from terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir continued a five-year decline in the first nine months of 2005. The Indian Government and military credit improved tactics and a fence that runs along the Line of Control (separating the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir) for having significantly reduced the number of terrorists who cross into Indian Kashmir, thus resulting in a lower number of attacks and fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir. After the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan that reportedly killed many Kashmir-based terrorists, however, the terrorists launched a series of high-profile attacks across the degraded frontier defenses in an effort to prove their continued relevance. Indian experts believe that the car bombs, grenade attacks, daytime assassinations, and assassination attempts on Kashmiri political leaders, including current and former state ministers, were designed to signal that the terrorist groups retained the ability to conduct "spectacular" operations despite their reported losses.

Naxalite (Maoist agrarian peasant movement) terrorism, which covers a broad region of eastern, central, and southern India, is growing in sophistication and lethality and may pose a significant long-term challenge. The Naxalites launched two mass attacks in the second half of 2005, destroying buildings, capturing weapons, and killing several local policemen in an attack on an Uttar Pradesh village. They also attacked the Jehanabad Prison in Bihar, killing two persons, freeing more than 300 inmates, and abducting about 30 inmates who were members of an anti-Naxalite group.

The U.S. Pacific Command conducted in September a counterterrorism tabletop exercise bringing together Indian and American military, diplomatic, law enforcement, and humanitarian assistance professionals. For the first time ever, a U.S. National Guard unit co-trained with Indian troops at the Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram in September and October. The State Department's Antiterrorism Assistance Program has trained hundreds of Indian police and security officers. The U.S.-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group (CTJWG) has met six times since its creation in 2000; India also participates in CTJWGs with 15 other countries, and in multilateral CTJWGs with the EU and BIMSTEC (an organization promoting economic cooperation among Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal).

The Indian Government supports ongoing U.S. investigations in cases involving victims of terrorism related to the United States. On April 26, a special court in Calcutta convicted seven men for the January 2002 attack on the American Center in Calcutta that left five Indian police officers dead and more than 20 injured.

India's counterterrorism efforts are hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems. The Indian court system is slow, laborious, and prone to corruption; terrorism trials can take years to complete. An independent Indian think tank, for example, assesses that the estimated 12,000 civilians killed by terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir from 1988 to 2002 generated only 13 convictions through December 2002; most of the convictions were for illegal border crossing or possession of weapons or explosives.

Many of India's local police forces are poorly staffed, trained, and equipped to combat terrorism effectively. Despite these challenges, India scored major successes, including numerous arrests and the seizure of hundreds of kilos of explosives and firearms during operations against the briefly resurgent Sikh terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International.

In August, the Indian Government announced a new policy on airplane hijackings that included directing ground crews to obstruct a hijacked plane from taking off, and a clearance procedure for authorizing the shooting down of a hijacked plane in flight that might endanger civilians on the ground.

The Indian Government has an excellent record of protecting its nuclear assets from terrorists, and is taking steps to improve further the security of its strategic systems. In May the Indian Parliament passed the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill, designed to prevent the transfer of WMD, delivery systems, and associated technologies to state and non-state actors, including terrorists.


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